Ancient history

The Arameans

Semitic nomadic tribes present in the regions between PALESTINE and the EUFRATE river , imposed themselves from the III millennium BC in MESOPOTAMIA and in SYRIA , but nevertheless they preferred to merge with the local populations, trying to enter the wealthy classes; their best period falls between the 13th and 12th centuries BC. with the conquest of BABYLON and the relative spread of their civilization ( ARAMAICA ) to the later ASSYRIANS, who adopted the ARAMAIC language and script as MEDIORIENTAL DIPLOMATIC LANGUAGE And of the 1st millennium BC . also used by SHUTTERS from the 6th century BC

Their powerful ARAM state with capital in DAMASCO , lived a particularly fortunate period between the 12th - 7th century BC. stopped by the arrival of the ASSYRIANS in 732 BC

The Aramaic language was of great importance in the ancient Middle Eastern area, originally similar to the Phoenician one but then deeply differentiated from it on a phonetic, lexical and grammatical level.

In the history of the Middle East there is talk of the Aramean nation starting in the second half of the second millennium BC:a Semitic people who lived in the so-called Fertile Crescent , a territory that today includes Israel, the north-west of Jordan , Lebanon , the north and west of Syria, northern Iraq and the lands along the Euphrates river .
In the Hebrew sources of the Bible and later we speak of Aramean kingdoms with geographical references such as Aram Naharayim, Padan Aram, Aram Tzova, Aram Damascus and others.
Aramaic became the lingua franca of these regions, also spoken by other ethnic groups such as the Jews, so much so that some of the books of the Tanach are written in this language.
During the first millennium BC. the spotlight fell on the Assyrian people, but their material conquest of the region did not affect the linguistic aspect, and Aramaic continued to be the prevailing language in the Fertile Crescent for hundreds of years.
For example, the Babylonian Talmud that was formulated during the first five hundred years of the Common Era is full of Aramaic, as is the Hebrew script of the geonic period starting in the 9th century. Jews as a religious and ethnic group have continued and continue to use Aramaic as a language of study and prayer.
Under Assyrian rule, there were well-defined Aramean groups that preserved their linguistic and religious heritage. , a fundamental fact to explain the connection between the Assyrian and Aramean peoples up to the present day.
The Greeks and Romans, who ruled the territory from the fourth century BC to the fourth AD, did not determine the disappearance of these Aramaic-speaking communities, which embraced Christianity following the advent of the Byzantines (Orthodox) at the end of the 4th century.
It is important to remember that the Arabic language originated in the Arabian Peninsula, the southern part of the Middle East, while the historical languages ​​of the Fertile Crescent are Aramaic, Assyrian, Persian and Hebrew.
The Muslim Arab tribes conquered the area in the 7th century, forcing the majority of the population to convert to Islam and merge into the Arab-Islamic culture. Muslim religion and Arabic language became the norm in the region, replacing the original identity of those Islamized groups which thus lost their unique characteristics.
Conversely, groups who remained faithful to their Christian religious tradition continued to use Aramaic , which remained the liturgical language in the churches and was preserved in the written alphabet of religious texts.
The Syriac-Aramean people belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, but over the years it has divided into several denominations:Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Syrian Catholics and Syrian Orthodox of Antioch. These nomenclatures are the result of geographical distances and alliances developed over time with one of the three patriarchates:Rome, Constantinople and Antioch. A variety that testifies to the stable presence over time of the Aramean populations in the Fertile Crescent.
The linguistic and religious unity has saved these groups - each on their own - from being absorbed into the Muslim majority, above all thanks to the ban on marrying outside their religion, similarly to Druze, Alawites and Jews.
This is why the Aramean communities managed to survive in the Fertile Crescent as an ethnic, linguistic and religious group.
Reason, this, to recognize its existence as an ethnic group in its own right.
In 1942, Edmond Mayer wrote an essay on the Lebanese and Assyrian Maronites in which he clearly stated that they are descendants of the Assyrian-Aramean peoples present in the area during the 7th century Muslim conquest. In 2005, Al Azhar University published a research by Ahmad Makhmad Ali al Jamal in which the Assyrian-Aramean people are recognized as a reality in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The neighboring countries have Christian communities in which the spoken language - and not just the liturgical one - is Aramaic. In Syria we find Maalula, Bakhia, Hassake, Qamishli. In Turkey, Tur-Abdin and Mardin. In northern Iraq, Qaraqoush, Alqosh, Irbil (the Kurdish capital), Ankawa. There is evidence that until the end of the 10th century the cities of Basri and Zarta and their surroundings in the Lebanese mountains spoke Aramaic.
The Arabic spoken in the Christian communities of the Levant differs from that of the Druze and Alawite Muslim communities and emphasizes the cultural segregation of Christians starting from the Arab-Islamic domination in the region. These cultural attributes gave rise to the Syrian-Aramean or, more shortly, Assyrian name. The most famous of the Syriac groups are the Maronites, most of whom live in Lebanon. Some of their prayer texts are in Aramaic.

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